Being Muslim is no license to abuse the English language.
I am not an English teacher. Nor am I an expert on the English language. But I suppose I have enough sense of the English language to be able to tell – in most cases at least – what sounds and what does not sound right to the ear.
Nor do I believe in handing over the English language to Her Majesty the Queen and waiting around to do her bidding whenever I have to speak it. You know, speaking “Queen’s English”?
The fact is English is my language. I have been speaking it from the time I was little. I am hesitating to call it my Mother Tongue because my mother did not speak it, even though my father did -- may Allah bless them both.
It is also the language my children and my students speak. And I am always on their case, trying to correct them, not that anyone listens to me, if not the way they speak, at the least the way they write.
So, you want to call me, in some ways, a Minder of the English Tongue, be my guest and go right ahead and do it.
So, given all that background, and all those disclaimers and caveats, there are things about the way the English language gets used by some Muslims that I object to. Take, for example, the expression some Muslims use about non-Muslims “Reverting” to Islam.
“Accepting Islam,” sure!
“Embracing Islam,” why not?
“Converting?” Sounds just about right.
“But 'Reverting’ to Islam”? That is where I see a problem.
“Revert” in the English language, I suspect, is returning to a “prior” state of some kind. So, what exactly are you saying when you say that a non-Muslim “reverted” to Islam?
Are you saying that this individual was somehow a “Muslim” before, in some kind of a “previous life,” then fate took him or her and dumped them in the lap of non-Islam, and now, due to God’s infinite mercy, of course, that person has gone back – “reverted” – to his or her original state of being, which, these people seem to say, was Islam.
In other words, that person “returned or 'Reverted’” to the original state of Islam after a bit of a detour. Am I reading that right?
The fact is, this stuff about one’s “previous life” sounds more Hindu to me than Muslim or Islamic. You know, reincarnation and all that.
Islam or not, what this thing is not is English. This is not English, period.
This is a linguistic monstrosity born of who knows what kind of ego-trips on whose part – and for what mysterious reasons. Are people supposed to somehow feel better that they were “Muslim” in some previous state of their existence? And now they have gone back to the way they were once upon an existence?
Applies to Abu Lahab, Abu Jahal, everybody, right?
As for its being Islam, it is more Mumbo-Jumbo of the kind Islam tends to shun and steer people away from than it is Islam.
Bringing in all that stuff about “Every child is born on Fitrah” and God asking the souls “Am I not Your Rabb?” and they all saying, “Of course, you are!” raises more questions than it answers.
I mean in this particular context. I am not questioning the validity of the relevant A-Haadeeth – plural for Hadith.
Ma’adhallah: Heaven Forbid!
So, whatever Islam some of these special Muslims seem to practice or believe in, the English language they need to learn to use is the one that everyone else uses – the Queen and all the rest of us non-Ma'adhallah-royals.
And that common usage would suggest that when people change their “religion” or faith, they are just “converting,” not Mumbo-Jumbo “reverting.”